Back-To-School is generally a time when school supplies are collected and ultimately distributed during community fairs and other events. However, the need for backpacks, notebooks, pens and other supplies continues well after the school year has started.
The Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has continued its efforts to meet this year-round need by continuing to collect and distribute school supplies. The effort is part of the AKA One Million Backpacks Project, a component of the Educational Enrichment: Target I of the 2014-18 Launching New Dimensions of ServiceSM International Program.
The project focuses on the sorority’s ability to support education with resources in the form of backpacks loaded with school supplies for students.
“For 95 years, Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has served the Greater Baltimore Community and has lived out our mission of ‘Service to All Mankind,’” said Tonja Ringgold, Epsilon Omega Chapter President.
In August, the Epsilon Omega Foundation, Inc. prepared and distributed over 800 backpacks filled with school supplies to area students and their families as part of the Back-to-School Community Fair held at the Ivy Family Support Center at 3515 Dolfield Avenue in Baltimore.
The Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, March Funeral Homes and ShopRite Stores donated over 45,000 rulers, glue sticks, folders, loose leaf paper, and other school supplies to ensure that students were “Packed, Polished, and Prepared” for the start of school.
This was the third year of the event, which also included lunch and games. Epsilon Omega Chapter and Foundation members along with volunteers distributed the supplies to students and their families. Co-chaired by Sharon Smith, Community Fair attendees also received information from various City agencies and non-profit community resources such as Enoch Pratt Free Library.
The Epsilon Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Education Enrichment program is chaired by Frances Parks and co-chaired by Jean Owens. The Backpack Project is chaired by Claudette Edgerton-Swain who says the goal is to ensure that students are always “Packed, Polished, and Prepared” for school.
“We understood as parents, as well as educators how difficult it was to purchase supplies for families with multiple children,” she said. “Our main concern was for our students to be equipped and to be academically prepared for a successful school year. We are still receiving calls at the Ivy Center requesting back packs, so our work continues.”
She also noted the distribution of library cards.
“We were very excited that Enoch Pratt Library attended the event as part of their early literacy program,” said the retired Baltimore City Public School teacher. “Several children received their first library card. It’s important to put books in the hands of children at an early age.”
Epsilon Omega Chapter is the first graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., in the North Atlantic
Region. The effort is among the many aimed at helping the community and beyond.
Last year, the group participated in “The Sewing Circle,” which creates dresses from pillowcases in support of Little Dresses for Africa. They took their creations to the AKA’s 67th Boule held in Atlanta, Georgia, July 9 -16, 2016.
“We took an oath, and are mandated to provide service to all mankind,” said Egerton-Swain.
For more information, or to make a donation to the AKA One Million Backpacks Project, email Egerton-Swain at: firstname.lastname@example.org.